Cards on the table: fasting is hard. And no fun. I have spent the last 18 years as a Christian wilfully ignoring it as something that is beyond me, something for those more ‘hardcore Christians’ than I. Actually that’s not quite true – on a number of occasions I could count on one hand, I have attempted to launch myself, full of enthusiasm and good intentions, into anything from 24 hour to 3 day fasts and fallen flat on my face merely hours into the period I’d allocated, leaving me discouraged and resigned to it just not being for me.
But I want desperately to be able to fast and always have, and every now and again, God brings the subject up – you know what I mean, that niggling feeling he gives us about an issue that just won’t go away until we’ve faced it – and I’ve decided that this time, instead of sticking my fingers in my eyes and doing the ‘I’m not listening’ routine, to examine just why I am so apprehensive about fasting, and what can be done about it.
Because God is very clear in the Bible that Christians should fast. He never says ‘if you fast’. It is always ‘when you fast’. ‘It’s just not for me’ isn’t an option. And before we panic, he isn’t talking about 40 days without food or water (although of course there are those who are called to this level, but it is very rare!). He is talking about a set period of spiritual preparation during which we suppress the distractions of our lives in order to give our undivided attention to God which results in a heightened awareness of His presence and His priorities for us. For each of us, this may take a different form.
Charles Stanley says, “Our agenda is replaced by His as we connect with Him in deeper intimacy and receive all that He has to tell us. It can be one of the most powerful experiences of the Christian life…(it enables us) to gain deeper communion with God…The intent is always to be in the Lord’s presence without disturbances so that His voice can be heard.”
The Bible gives us examples of people fasting for breakthrough in prayer, for guidance, but essentially fasting can bring clarity in how we discern God’s voice.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” Corinthians 2:9-10
WRITTEN BY KAREN ROY